Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced that he is making £20m available to an Oxford team to accelerate trials for a coronavirus vaccine that will be trialled on people from Thursday.
A vaccine for coronavirus is the breakthrough the world is waiting for. It would give humanity a way to beat the infection and save lives.
Lots of scientific groups in different nations are chasing this goal, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock hopes the UK will be the one to succeed.
He’s promised £42.5m to fund two research groups: one team at Imperial College London and the other based at Oxford University.
The Oxford group, led by Prof Sarah Gilbert, is to begin testing its vaccine in human volunteers this week.
Her team at the Jenner Institute set to work as soon as the genetic code, or blueprint, of coronavirus became available in January.
The vaccine uses a small section of this code packaged into a harmless virus. Scientists hope that delivering this into the body will teach the immune system how to fight off the real disease, without ever needing to become infected with coronavirus.
The plan is to test it on around 500 volunteers by mid-May and if that work proves successful, give it to thousands more volunteers.
Other groups, like Prof Robin Shattock and colleagues at Imperial, are using pieces of raw genetic code which, once injected into the body, should start producing bits of viral proteins which the immune system again can learn to fight.